Cannabis Information, Warnings, Effect and Medicinal Uses

Cannabis is used for medicinal purpose not only in India but also in Middle East and other countries of Asia since time immemorial. This plant was also introduced in Europe in 19th century for treatment of neuralgia, insomnia, migraine, epilepsy, tetanus, rheumatism, and asthma. Hemp derivatives are suggested for treating glaucoma and as an antiemetic in cancer chemotherapy. In Ayurveda, the dried leaf of hemp is used in very low dosage. The powder of leaf is given in treatment of digestive weakness, insomnia, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.

cannabis Ayurvedic Herb medicinal uses
By Chmee2 (Own work)[GFDL or CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cannabis is native to temperate regions of Asia and found in many countries across the world. It is an annual herb that is found almost throughout the year in waste lands of temperate regions. It is one of the oldest non-food crop that is grown in the world.

Warning: Hemp is notorious for its narcotic use. It is classified as a narcotic, belonging to psychotropic disrupters due to its properties to change perceptions, emotions and brain functions. The possession and use of cannabis is illegal in most of the countries but some country do allow medical uses of this plant.

In India, production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import interstate, export inter-state or use is illegal and can draw fine or imprisonment. Its cultivation without license can result in rigorous imprisonment (up to 10 years) and fine. But for personal use in small quantity, it is permissible and tolerated in most of Indian states.

The drugs produced from cannabis have narcotic and sedative effect. Use of such medicine gives relief in pain, fatigue, inflammation and also induces sleep. In low therapeutic dose, cannabis improves appetite, digestion and may cause constipation. But prolonged abuse of this herb causes loss of appetite, gastric derangement, loss of self-control, and intoxication.

Cannabis/Hemp plant

This plant can be identified by its leaves which are palmately compound with linear leaflets and serrated margins. The length of leaf is about 5-20 cm and it is pointed, narrow at base. Its upper surface is dark green and rough and lower is pale. The leaves of female plant is longer than the male plant. The odor of leaves is strong and characteristic and they taste slightly acrid.


Annual plant;erect stems growing from 3 to 10 feet or more high, very slightly branched, having greyish-green hairs;leaves palmate, with five to seven leaflets (three on the upper leaves), numerous, on long thin petioles with acute stipules at the base, linear-lanceolate, tapering at both ends, the margins sharply serrate, smooth and dark green on the upper surface, lighter and downy on the under one;flowers small, unisexual, male having five almost separate, downy, pale yellowish segments, female single, hairy, glandular, five-veined leaf enclosing the ovary in a sheath;ovary smooth, one-celled, with one hanging ovule and two long, hairy thread-like stigmas extending beyond the flower for more than its own length;fruit small, smooth, light brownish-grey in colour, and completely filled by the seed.

Part used: Dried flowering top, growing top, leaves, seeds, resin

Vernacular names

  • Sanskrit: Vijaya, Bhang, Madani, Indrasana, Trailokya-vijaya, Tribhuvan vijaya, Shukranaashana, Ganja
  • Assamese: Bhan, Bhang
  • Bengali: Bhang, Sidhi
  • English: Cannabis, Hemp
  • Gujrati: Bhang
  • Hindi: Bhaang, Bhanga
  • Kannada: Bhangigida, Ganjagida
  • Kashmiri: Pang, Bangi
  • Malayalam: Kanchavu
  • Marathi: Bhang, Ganja
  • Oriya: Bhanga, Ganjei
  • Punjabi: Bhang
  • Tamil: Ganja
  • Telugu: Ganjayi
  • Urdu: Qinaab, Bhang
  • Unani: Bhang, Charas, Qinnab
  • Siddha: Ganja

Most common Indian name: Bhang

Other common names: Cannabis, hemp, marijuana, hashish

Bhang: Bhang is preparation from the dried leaves of plant. The term also include fresh leaves, female flower heads, stems and seeds mix. It is deep green in colour. This is made into paste with milk or water and drink as intoxicating liquor.

This is smoked, chewed, eaten, or infused and drunk to obtain mild euphoria.

Ganja: Ganja is seedless unfertilized resinous brownish-green flowering top or fruiting top of female plant which and pressed to get compact masses. It is bitter, highly potent form of hemp and usually used for smoking.

Charas (more commonly known as hashish in Arabic): Charas is resin obtained from plant. The resin exudates from the leaves, stem and fruits. It is low in taste but high on intoxication.

Bhang is consumed orally but Ganja and charas are usually smoked.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action on body

In Ayurveda, the dried leaves of plant are administered orally in dosage of 125-250 mg to treat many diseases.

The dried leaf powder of plant possess following properties.

Rasa (Taste): Tikta/Bitter

Guna (Characteristics): Laghu/Light, Tikshna/Sharp

Virya (Potency): Ushna/Hot

Vipaka (Post Digestive Effect): Katu/Pungent

Action on body:

Dipana/ deepana (Digestive stimulant)

Grahi (Anti-diarrhea, binds stool)

Pachana (digest ama/toxins)

Vajikarana (Reproductive tonic/ aphrodisiac)

Vyavayi (Spread throughout the body without first getting digested)

The dried leaves are given in all diseases that require stimulant, exhilarant, aphrodisiac and anodyne effect.

Medicinal Action of plant

Hemp products are used in treatment of dyspepsia, cancers, tumors and several other diseases. Use of Cannabis affects whole body. Below is given scientifically proven medicinal properties of action. Cannabis is used as medicine in traditional medicine in low dosage. In high dosage, cannabis is highly injurious to health.

Hallucinogenic: induces hallucinations

Hypnotic: producing hypnosis/ sleep-inducing

Sedative: promoting calm

Analgesic: Pain relieving

Stimulant: raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body

Exhilarant: person feel very happy, animated, or elated

Anti-inflammatory: reduce inflammation

Abortifacient: Causes abortion

Antibacterial: works against bacteria

Anticonvulsant: prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions

Antiemetic: preventing vomiting


In India, Hemp plant naturally found distributed in waste grounds, along road side, and other similar undisturbed areas.

Chemical Constituents

More than 460 chemicals of various classes (cannabinoids, cannabispirans and alkaloids) are isolated from cannabis. Also more than sixty cannabinoids have been isolated, in which, the most important one is delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has Antiemetic properties) and it is the predominant psychoactive cannabinoid.

Cannabinoids are present in leaves, flowering tops of female plants, bracts and resin of plant (absent in fruits and stems) are responsible for many medicinal properties of plant.

Medicinal Uses

  1. The paste of leaves is used applied topically on cuts, skin ulcer and insect bite
  2. The dried leaf powder is applied topically on wounds for faster healing.
  3. Poultice prepared from whole plant is applied in inflammation, erysipelas (disease caused by a bacterial infection, characterized by large raised red patches on the skin), nerve pain and hemorrhoids.
  4. Pounded leaves poultice is applied topically on eyes in case of extreme sensitivity to light.
  5. All parts of Hemp plant have narcotic effect. In recommended doses for therapeutic use, the plant does not show any ill-effects. But beyond that it becomes injurious to health. Its high dose causes hallucination, loss of memory and thinking power, gloominess, intoxication etc. Its long term use causes indigestion, impotence, and health loss.


  1. High doses of cannabis in animals have damaged developing embryos and resulted in birth defects
  2. Smoking cannabis is injurious to health. It affects memory, alterations in space and time perception, hallucinations etc. These effects can last for hours.
  3. Cannabis is toxic for fetus.
  4. Intake of cannabis may trigger acute psychotic reactions in schizophrenia.
  5. Long term use of cannabis may lead to respiratory ailments, Schizophrenia, psychosis impotence, laryngitis, psychic decline and dependence.
  6. Cannabis smoking causes chronic bronchitis and histopathological changes in bronchi.
  7. Dependence on cannabis causes withdrawal, physical complications, impaired memory, poor work performance, social disapproval and criminal involvement.
  8. Cannabis causes vasodilation and bronchodilation. It affects brain and causes cognitive and psychomotor impairment in high dose.

Differences between Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis is known by many common names such as Hemp, Marijuana, Grass, hash, Bhang etc. It is a plant belonging to family Cannabaceae, the hemp family. Cannabis is native to Central and South Asia. It is cultivated from ancient time for its fiber, oil, medicinal use and as a recreational drug. There are main two varieties of cannabis plants available viz. sativa and indica. These two varieties are different in appearance and also in properties.

The scientific name Cannabis sativa is general name for both varieties and used as synonym.

Biological Classifications of Marijuana per the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Feb. 15, 2007


Latin Name

Common Name






Vascular plants



Seed plants



Flowering plants












Hemp family


Cannabis L.



Cannabis sativa L.



Cannabis sativa L. ssp. sativa



Cannabis sativa L. ssp. indica



Cannabis sativa L. ssp. sativa var. spontanea


Difference between sativa and indica

Here are given few differences in two varieties of cannabis.

Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis Indica

Plant appearance

Taller (can reach height up to 20 feet) and thinner with higher yield (3 ounces to 1 pound per plant);long internodes

Smaller (2 to 4 feet tall) stout plant with smaller yields (1.5 to 2.5 ounces per plant);Shorter internodes.


Slower rate

Faster rate


Lighter green;narrow leaves;

Leaves are long, thin, pointed

Darker green in colour;shorter, fatter leaves.




Pattern on leaf

Solid green, no marking

Marbled pattern


Floral, fruity, sweet aroma


Prefers warm environments

Prefers cooler environments

THC (delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, active ingredient of cannabis) to Cannabidiol (CBD) Ratio,

CBD is considered to have a wider scope of medical applications than THC.

higher level of THC compared to CBD

higher level of CBD compared to THC

Effect on

More effect on mind;produce uplifting and cerebral effect;energizing, focusing, inspirational stimulating

More effect on body;Relaxing, anti-epileptic, anti-nauseant, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving and sleep inducing

Main action

Stimulant, gives alertness, optimism

More Sedative, relaxant effect on body, gives feeling of sleepiness and heaviness

Indicated in treatment of

Depression, appetite stimulation, migraine

Better for anxiety, chronic pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, nausea, appetite stimulation, sleep deprivation. insomnia sleep apnea, multiple sclerosis,

fibromyalgia, lupus, tremors

Suitable time for use

Best for day time

Best for night time

There are also hybrid varieties of cannabis plant available which are produced by crossing the pure sativa and pure indica plants. Such hybrid plants have some characteristics of both parents.

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